SES Reports Continued Strong ResultsMonday, October 27th, 2008
BETZDORF, Luxembourg — SES S.A., the pre-eminent satellite operator worldwide (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG), reports on financial performance for the nine months ended 30th September 2008.
High Definition (HD) programming has continued to grow significantly. With 55 HD channels broadcast from its main orbital positions (up from 42 at the end of June), SES ASTRA carries the strongest line-up of HD channels in most of the major European markets. Today 1.2 million households already receive HDTV via the ASTRA satellite system. Furthermore, High Definition TV coverage of the Olympic Games this summer was facilitated by ASTRA, whose expertise and transmission capacity supported 12 free- and pay-TV channels.
The 23.5 degrees East orbital position is benefiting from the strong demand and a dynamic development of the Central and Eastern European markets. Slovakian telecommunications and television company Towercom, has doubled its capacity on ASTRA and contracted one additional transponder at 23.5 degrees East to successfully develop its SKYlink platform. 23.5 degrees East is therefore becoming an increasingly popular orbital position for Direct-to- Home services in Central and Eastern Europe.
At 28.2/28.5 degrees East, the service to the UK and Ireland has been complemented by the commercialisation of ASTRA’s twelfth and last transponder available at 28.5 degrees East, effective 1st October 2008.
The first customer for the African service from 5 degrees East was signed in September. ETV, a South African broadcaster, contracted a transponder on ASTRA 4A (a payload carried on the SIRIUS 4 satellite bus) for its 24 hour news services. SES ASTRA is in advanced negotiations with other parties to contract the remaining capacity on ASTRA 4A. ASTRA’s new orbital position at 31.5 degrees East started operations and signed its first customers, with contracts for six transponders (of the 26 commercially available) being agreed, to start service in the fourth quarter 2008 and first quarter 2009. Of these, two transponders were contracted for optimised broadcasting to German cable operators. Four more transponders were taken by Lithuanian satellite services provider, SatGate, for delivery of broadband services and internet connectivity in Central and Eastern Europe.
A new satellite, Sirius 5, is being procured from the satellite manufacturer, Space Systems / Loral. The new spacecraft will further strengthen the SES fleet with an additional 56 transponders at 5 degrees East. The satellite is scheduled for launch in the second half of 2011. Sirius 5 will have 12 Ku-band transponders serving Northern Europe and the Baltic region and 24 Ku-band transponders serving African markets with Direct-to-Home (DTH) services, which will be commercialised by SES ASTRA.
The replacement programme at the 19.2 degrees East orbital position continued with the procurement of the ASTRA 1N satellite from Astrium. The satellite is scheduled for launch in 2011. The satellite will carry 55 Ku-band transponders with a pan-European footprint, and will principally serve the German, French and Spanish markets. With ASTRA 1N, SES ASTRA will have completed its comprehensive replacement programme at this prime orbital position.
The ASTRA 1M satellite is scheduled for launch in early November on a Proton launcher from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. ASTRA 1M carries replacement capacity for the 19.2 degrees East orbital position.
On 7th October 2008 Solaris Mobile, the SES ASTRA/Eutelsat joint venture, submitted its comprehensive application for provision of a range of innovative mobile services via satellite throughout the European Union. These services will be delivered via a state-of-the-art Sband payload to be launched in 2009.
The service companies, NDSatCom, ASTRA Platform Services (APS) and TechCom continued to show strong development and remained growth drivers for SES ASTRA. APS distributes about 250 analogue and digital TV and radio channels, interactive services and data services. APS recently announced a creation of a digital archive service with integrated digital asset management system.
The roll-out of ASTRA2Connect, a two-way high-speed internet service launched in April 2007, continued successfully. ASTRA2Connect is now marketed in 10 European countries; the latest contract was signed with the Spanish cable operator, TeleCable.
The successful launch of the AMC-21 satellite on 14th August 2008 added new, high quality incremental capacity to the AMERICOM fleet. AMC-21 is a high power, 24 transponder, all Ku-band satellite with 50-state U.S. coverage, plus Mexico, southern Canada, Central America and the Caribbean. In-orbit testing was completed during the six weeks after launch and the satellite was brought into commercial use in early October at the 125 degrees West orbital position. The anchor customer, PBS (Public Broadcasting System), has contracted seven transponders for its Next Generation Information System (NGIS) infrastructure distribution platform.
The Ciel-2 satellite, under construction for our Canadian affiliate, Ciel (SES AMERICOM economic interest of 70%), remains on track for a scheduled launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Proton Breeze M launch vehicle in early December. The spacecraft is wholly contracted by DISH Network Corporation to broadcast DBS services over North America. In addition, Ciel has secured Approval-In-Principle from the Canadian regulatory authorities for the development of six spectrum awards. Ciel is actively engaged in commercial development efforts for these spectrum awards.
AMERICOM Government Services (AGS) signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to host an experimental remote sensing payload on an SES AMERICOM satellite scheduled to be launched in 2010. In addition, AGS signed a contract for the acquisition of AOS Inc., a Dallas-based supplier of satellite communication technologies and solutions. The integration of AOS will enable AGS to serve new segments within the U.S. government market. The AOS acquisition is expected to close before the end of this year.
IP PRIME has now signed over 60 telcos for its satellite-delivered IPTV service, of which 32 are installed and 22 are commercially operational. IP PRIME continued to expand its High Definition (HD) programming to 34 channels, with six more expected to be added by the end of the year . The completion of the first year of commercial activities has provided the basis for a review of the IP PRIME services portfolio and its market adoption/takeup. The company is examining opportunities to rationalise and prioritise SES’s involvement in the value chain, with the objective of enhancing our returns.
SES NEW SKIES
SES NEW SKIES built on the successful record of the year to date, with a number of new contracts, in particular for DTH television services, important capacity renewals and extensions, as well as pre-commitments for capacity on the NSS-12 satellite. The tight capacity in the Indian Ocean region has supported pre-bookings on NSS-12, due to be launched in 2009 to replace NSS-703 and to deliver additional capacity in the region. The satellite internet service provider, Talia, has contracted 90 MHz of capacity in a multi-year deal, to serve its target customer base in the Middle East and Africa. CeTel, another satellite services provider, has contracted a 36 MHz transponder to serve its VSAT and corporate network customers in the region.
Early in the quarter, Essel group signed a contract for up to six 36 MHz-equivalent transponders on the NSS-703 satellite for the HITS digital TV service, delivering content into Indian cable networks.
Globecast renewed its capacity agreement for services to the Americas and Europe, the contract for two transponders on the NSS-806 satellite is for a five year period. A multi-year, multi-transponder contract was agreed with the Philippines broadcaster, Mediascape, for the launch of its DTH service on NSS-11.
The NSS-9 satellite has completed ground testing and will be launched in February 2009 on an Ariane launcher from the European Spaceport in French Guiana. The satellite carries replacement capacity for the NSS-5 satellite serving the Pacific Ocean region. The SIRIUS 5 satellite, which has been procured for services at the 5 degrees East orbital position, will carry a C-band payload of 20 transponders with an African hemispheric beam, which will be commercialised by SES NEW SKIES.
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